A quick and efficient page turner, Dark Matter doesn’t bring anything too new to the genre, but it is certainly entertaining enough to keep you reading
If you read the premise of Dark Matter, you don’t immediately see anything terribly original or grout-breaking. A man doesn’t know it but the entire world he knows is about to be ripped away from him. It sounds like the premise for nearly any crime thriller made and the book starts that way. Jason Dessen has the perfect wife, the perfect son, and the perfect life. At least in his eyes. We meet Jason as he and his family are in the middle of family night. Who legitimately has a family night? However, when he mentions to his wife that he was invited out to a bar by a friend, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him to go. What significant other would say that without resistance? It’s too perfect and too polished.
As the book goes on, more and more of these typical scenarios play out. He meets up with an old college roommate who has become a prize-winning scientist in the field of astrophysics that Jason is no just an undergrad professor in. Naturally, Jason feels jealousy and regret since he made the decision 15 years ago to have his son Charlie with his wife Daniela, effectively killing his career in science.
You can pretty much call everything that happens in the first third of the book. You can even call what happens when a mysterious masked figure kidnaps Jason at gunpoint and leads him to an abandoned factory in a run-down part of Chicago. When Jason wakes up after being stuck with a needle he is surrounded by people in hazmat suits who seem to know him.
However, that’s where the predictability stops. From there, I had no idea where the book would go and when I thought I did it would quickly veer away. His keeps the plot tight and lean, which makes it a page-turner from start to end. However, there are places that I wish he would expand and made me want to pull my hair out wondering what will happen next. At a certain point I could be confident that in the next couple pages my questions will be answered.
And because of the leanness of the book, you’re left with shallow characters that you only care about because you’re told to. The only intriguing characters are ones that you get limited time with, which again makes you want to know more about them and their motivations. This book could easily have been twice as long and still be as entertaining and thrilling.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. It’s smart, sometimes too much for its own good, and masterfully laid out. As Jason falls more deeply entangled in this deranged plot, he begins to have questions about his own sanity and meaning. I can’t talk more about it without spoiling the plot, but Dark Matter brings up some interesting questions about the decisions that we make and how they affect our lives and the world around us.
I don’t think Dark Matter brings anything terribly new to the table, but Blake Crouch knows how to tell an engrossing story. Despite a rocky start, he pulls the book together into a genuinely interesting and human thriller. Even if his characters feel contrived and the plot to some extent feel familiar, Crouch has written a page turner from beginning to end.